Manny Pacquiao is looking for his next opponent, following his victory over Brandon Rios. According to Bob Arum, Pac-Man’s upcoming challenger could be a very familiar one.
The Top Rank CEO told the Los Angeles Times that Juan Manuel Marquez is one of the favorites to fight Pacquiao in 2014. The two boxers have met on several occasions, stepping in the ring opposite of each other four times between 2004 and 2012.
Marquez won the most recent bout, knocking out Pacquiao in the sixth round of their 2013 match. Previously, Pacquiao beat Marquez in the second and third meetings, while the first bout was ruled a draw.
The news that Pacquiao-Marquez V could happen contradicts what Marquez has recently stated. After finally beating Pacquiao, the 40-year-old said that he had nothing left to prove against his rival.
"You know, Manny Pacquiao is a great fighter and we had a lot of great fights together," Marquez said in October. "But I beat him. I knocked him out, cold. I think I won the other fights, but in the fourth fight, I knocked him out and proved who's best. And he's a great fighter, but there are a lot of them and Timothy Bradley is one of them. He has that win over Pacquiao, and he is very tough. He's a fighter, a real fighter.”
Marquez’s comments came right before he was defeated by Bradley in a split decision for the WBO Welterweight title. Bradley had taken the belt from Pacquiao in a controversial split decision in June 2012. Marquez was very upset with the decision in the loss to Bradley, and claimed that he would not fight in Las Vegas again. If he can get a rematch with the champ, he’d likely take that over a fight with Pacquiao, considering reports from Mexico oppose Arum’s statement.
If a Bradley-Marquez doesn’t happen, it might be because Bradley wants another shot at Pacquiao. Even though Bradley was named the winner, most experts that watched the fight viewed it as victory for Pacquiao. The WBO even reviewed the bout and declared that the decision was erroneous. Since there appears to be an unofficial asterisk next to Bradley’s win, the 30-year-old wants another chance to prove that he’s better than Pac-Man.
“Hopefully he will get into the ring with me,” Bradley said in an interview with On The Ropes. “Hopefully we can fight again, and after I beat Pacquiao, then there is nothing else said about it, there is nothing else said about Pacquiao, ‘Oh he beat you once.’ No, I’m going to beat him fair and square and then I can move forward, then I can go forward, but I have to go back revisit that fight, I have to fight this guy.”
Ruslan Provodnikov is another option if a fight with Bradley or Marquez doesn't come to fruition. According to The Sweet Science, Arum said that the 29-year-old wants his shot at Pacquiao. Provodnikov has stated that he’s not interested in such a matchup, but Arum claims that the Russian's stance may be a ploy to get more money for the fight.
Provodnikov beat Mike Alvarado on Oct. 19, but lost to Bradley a few months prior. According to Arum, Pacquiao versu Provodnikov is a fight that fans want to see.
“If you ask people who they would want to see Manny fight next, everybody would say Mayweather, but next to Mayweather, they would probably say Provodnikov,” said Arum. “He's the next logical fight. Who else would you want Pacquiao to fight?